September 17, 2015
It was during one of Erin Giles’ lowest moments that she made a decision to change her life. And that resolution, in turn, ended up changing the lives of millions of others.
She was on food stamps in 2012 trying to support her small family while striving to grow her own business as a doTERRA Wellness Advocate. That was the same year Erin watched a documentary on sex trafficking (Nefarious) that, she says, broke her heart wide open and introduced her to the gravity of the problem that "is a much bigger issue than any of us realize," according to California Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard.
Twenty-seven million men, women, and children are being bought and sold every hour of every day in the sex trafficking trade.1 It’s a problem defined as the illegal recruitment and movement of people by force, coercion, or deception, typically for purposes of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation. Almost every country in the world is affected.2
It’s a struggle that also brings with it several health concerns. Sex trafficking may play a huge role in the spread of HIV across South Asia as well as Hepatitis-B, Syphilis, and other STDs.3 Studies have found high levels of symptoms of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among female survivors of human trafficking.4
Erin knew she had to do something but, at the time, had little to give. She flew into action, creating "End Sex Trafficking Day." She also invited 60 compassionate, award-winning writers, creatives, and entrepreneurs to contribute essays, which she compiled in a book called End Sex Trafficking: Let’s Be Impossible to Ignore.
Erin successfully raised $10,000 on her own to publish and sell the book, with all proceeds going to an anti-human trafficking organization. The next year, she approached it in a bigger, more impactful way, starting a movement to raise funds for five non-profits that fight every day to help the enslaved. Exodus Cry, The Sold Project, Courtney’s House, New Friends New Life, and Not for Sale Campaign all work to end sex trafficking with various projects stressing awareness, prevention, rescue, and recovery. That effort raised $26,000, surpassing her goal.
Each year, Erin’s group comes up with a new projects, benefitting a different non-profit. In 2014, she set out to raise awareness with a video teaching all ages, including parents, how to recognize the signs of sex trafficking and report it.
Erin’s efforts continue with a college campus movement in 2015, inviting students to create activism projects to end sex trafficking. The projects will be filmed and the video released in an online campaign in October. Highly-motivated, Erin also carries on the fight for the victims of sex trafficking as a frequent Ted-X and motivational speaker, challenging her audiences to come together, pool their resources and social networks, and show the love that we—as people—have for each other. Erin’s is one small voice making a big difference.
1. "End Sex Trafficking"
2. "UNODC no Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling"
3. "Syphilis and Hepatitis B Co-infection among HIV-Infected, Sex Trafficked Women and Girls, Nepal"
4. "Risk Factors for Mental Disorders in Women Survivors of Human Trafficking: a Historical Cohort Study"